Charlie Davies has not played for D.C. United in almost two years, but thanks to MLS’s byzantine rules, the club retained the American forward’s league rights even after he resumed his career in Europe.
United is planning to cash in its unused asset by trading the former U.S. national team star’s rights to the New England Revolution, several sources said Thursday. Davies, 27, would then go on loan to the Revolution from Danish club Randers, which owns his contract.
“This will get done,” one source said of the United-Revolution trade.
No details were offered, but D.C. would presumably receive a draft pick or financial considerations.
Officials from both clubs declined comment.
In 2011, in his return to first-team soccer after recovering from severe injuries suffered in a 2009 car crash, Davies scored 11 goals while on loan to United from French club Sochaux.
After the season, United declined to exercise an option to purchase his contract from Sochaux for $1.3 million. Davies returned to France and eventually moved on a free transfer to Danish club Randers in July 2012.
During the 2012-13 Danish season, he did not score in 25 appearances (four starts) in all competitions.
How did United retain his MLS rights? According to league records, United attempted to re-sign Davies and was unable to reach a deal. Hence, by making a offer, the club carried the right of first refusal, should he return to MLS.
At the time of Davies’s departure, United made no statements indicating interest in keeping him. That does not mean the club didn’t reach out, but from all public indications, the sides never discussed a loan extension or transfer.
Davies has deep roots in the New England region. He was raised in Manchester, N.H., attended private high school in Massachusetts and starred for three years at Boston College before signing with Swedish club Hammarby in 2007.
United had no plans to reacquire Davies this summer and was willing to negotiate a trade with the Revolution.
The cloudy circumstances involving the Davies trade come a week after Seattle acquired Clint Dempsey on a $9 million transfer from Tottenham Hotspur. U.S. national team players who sign, or re-sign, with MLS are typically exposed to an allocation order. By offering a lucrative designated player contract, however, the Sounders avoided the mechanism that might have resulted in Dempsey joining another club.
The rule exempting DPs from the allocation process is not publicized in the league’s roster regulations. League officials have pledged greater transparency in the player acquisition system in the future.